We Are Training Disciples In Godliness - Plethos
We are continuing to discuss the six attributes that a disciple of Jesus Christ is pursuing. They are…
We are training disciple-makers
We are helping disciples train in godliness
We are helping each family unit be a love and truth center
We are distributing the grace of God by serving one another
We are families on mission
We are teaching the consequences of sin and of not obeying Jesus
We are looking at the second one, “We are helping disciples train in godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7-8).
Christmas is almost upon us and we are beginning to see more and more commercials to grab our attention to buy their products. One of the commercials that I am seeing a lot is of a product called, ‘The Mirror’. It looks like one of those long mirrors that most college students have hanging in their dorm room. Many of you may have one of those mirrors hanging in your home. This, however, is a special mirror that is interactive. It becomes a mirror that you can look at and it will show you other people working out and encourage you to work out as well. Although I do not want one, it is really quite ingenious.
Today we are talking about training ourselves in godliness. There are several questions that I have as I began to consider this ‘We Are Statement’.
Do I need to train in godliness?
How do I train in godliness?
Who trains me in godliness?
Are there wrong ways to train in godliness?
How much progress should I expect?
How does godliness benefit me and those around me?
On page 49 of our Plethos book we see this ‘We Are Statement’. The key verse that is used here is found in 1 Timothy 4:7-8, “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly, myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also the life to come.”
On the left side of the page we see how Plethos defines godliness. They say, “Godliness is being like Christ and doing Christ’s work. Every disciple has the capacity to learn the word of God and live the word of God. Our role is to help followers of Jesus discover their capacity to train in godliness.”
This statement helps to answer some of the questions that we had asked. Every disciple has the ability to learn the Word of God and to live the Word of God out in day to day life. And our role is also to help other followers of Jesus to train in godliness. If we were looking into ‘The Mirror’ right now our primary attention in this training would be upon Christ. He is our focus and He is the one that we are following. But we would also see other Christians on the mirror who are encouraging us in this work out. We train with them, receive instruction from them and we encourage each other.
What I would like to do tonight is to spend some time looking at the broader context of 1 Timothy 4:7-8. It truly is an exciting passage.
First, notice that the environment that we live in is a difficult one. There are many challenges to overcome in our walk towards godliness. There are many programs that make promises that they cannot deliver on. Look at 1 Timothy 4:1, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.” Our Lord is speaking to each of us and warning us about some things that will totally distract us from the proper path to godliness. The Spirit clearly points these things out saying, “some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons.”
Those who were one passionate, zealous and focused upon the path toward godliness have departed. Ironically, this does not necessarily mean that they are no longer in the church. They are very zealous and very devoted people. They have departed from the faith but they are now devoting themselves to all the wrong teachings of demons and philosophies of men.
Imagine what the Spirit is saying in this verse. The Spirit warns that there are some who have departed from ‘the faith’, the instructions and teachings of Scripture, and the good doctrines that God has revealed and they are now devoted to the teachings of demons and evil spirits. Recently, someone asked me if it was OK for a Christian to play ‘Dungeons and Dragons’. In our conversation I stressed that they really needed to be in the Word and praying that the Spirit would lead them or keep them from anything harmful. These harmful teachings and philosophies can be found everywhere – even in the church!
1 Timothy 4:2-5 tells us who delivers the messages of demons and evil spirits. These teachings come through men who are insincere and liars. Their consciences are seared and they forbid many things that the Lord has created to be received with thanksgiving. These things are made holy by the Word of God and through prayer. In 1 Timothy 4:1-5 the Spirit has given us a strong warning. We do not live in a world that is conducive to godliness. In fact, many will depart from the faith and devote themselves to many other things.
But there is a solution. There is still a way for a believer to be training in godliness. There is still a way for great progress to be made. And there is a way even for those who have departed to be brought back to ‘the faith’ and to ‘good doctrine’.
How will all of this be done? In 1 Timothy 4:6 we read, “If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.” Paul also tells Timothy in 4:11, “Command and teach these things. Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the example…”. In verse 13 Paul says, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching”
What is the antidote, the cure, the solution to people departing from ‘the faith’? The consistent, faithful and bold teaching of Scripture. And the example of godliness that this produces in a disciples life.
Even Timothy is warned about getting caught up in these deceptive teachings. Paul says in 4:7, “Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths.”
What does Paul mean by saying irreverent, silly myths? Are these teachings funny? Are these teachings comical? No, these teaching take many prisoners and those who depart because of them need to be saved from them (4:16). But when you place these doctrines and teachings of demons next to ‘the faith’ they are irreverent and silly.
I grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. When you live in the bible belt you do not realize that there are strands of Christianity that are more faithful to the teachings of Scripture. Some will ask me how I could have gotten involved in some of the teachings that are clearly not healthy. They do not realize that when that is all you have known and have been taught you really don’t know better until the Lord opens up your eyes. You need someone to come and train you up in true godliness. It is only then that I came to realize just how silly and irreverent some of those things were.
Interestingly, admits in 4:8 that physical training has some value in this life. But he says that true godliness has value in this life and in the life to come. It is sad to think that the most devoted and religious people in this life will not experience the life to come. What does it gain a man if he gains the whole world but forfeits his soul?
This is why in 4:10 Paul places Timothy on the most important aspect of pursuing godliness. He says, “For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”
It is interesting to consider this teaching on training in godliness. Initially, our thoughts might immediately go to the training of our physical bodies in some way or to the rejection of certain things. But Paul had previously given us a definition to work with. He does this back in 1 Timothy 3:14-16 when he says,
I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up into glory.
It is immediately after this statement concerning Christ that the we are told that some will depart from the Faith. Some will depart from the gospel concerning Jesus Christ. Some will depart from a God focused theology to a man centered theology. Some will spend their time and effort focusing on silly doctrines; rather than, focusing upon our Savior and being transformed to be more like Him in true godliness. But if Timothy, and us, will practice these things, immerse ourselves in them so that all will see our progress many will hear and see the truth. If we will keep a close watch on ourselves and on our teaching, persisting in this, we will save ourselves and our hearers. (4:15-16) Notice the emphasis that is put upon the hearing of the gospel in that last sentence. Our example is necessary but the message cannot be neglected and it is vitally important. Those who hear us proclaim the gospel will be saved.
We have seen that we are, like Timothy, to be helping to train others in godliness. This training focuses upon Christ and upon the truth of Scripture. This training never ceases. We are always to be training in godliness and helping others too as well.